The Last of the Mohicans
Hawkeye is a frontier scout in northern New York during the time of the French-Indian wars of the English colonies. He is with two Indian friends, Chingachgook and his son Uncas, when the three come across a small party of English soldiers and two women on their way to the women's father's garrison deep in the forest. The small party is being led by a Huron Indian, a scout named Magua. Hawkeye is concerned for their welfare and unsure of Magua. The three join the English party.
Magua proves the treachery of which Hawkeye was concerned. He kidnaps Cora, her younger sister Alice, and one of the English soldiers. Their father, the commander of the garrison where they are going, had him whipped once. Magua has held a grudge since and is now getting his revenge. He informs Cora he will release Alice and the soldier if she will come and be his woman.
Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas track the Huron and his captives through the dense forest to rescue them. But there are more problems than Magua. The whole Huron tribe is dangerous. The English garrison is at war with the French. Even if rescued and taken to the garrison, will the group be able to stay there?
The Last of the Mohicans is best described as a saga. It is full of suspense, chases, quietness, treachery, and romance. Hawkeye, or Natty Bumppo, or Deerslayer, whichever name he is using at the moment, is the fierce, brave English scout hero. Chingachgook and Uncas are strong, fierce, loyal Indians. Magua is shifty and dangerous. Cora is brave and will face up to danger. Alice is the typical English woman of the time - fairly helpless, not independent or resilient like her sister.
Many of the descriptions in this book would not be allowed today since they do not fit in with today's politically correct terminology, especially with the Hurons. Yet Chingachgook and Uncas are respected throughout the book because of the men they are, not because they are Indians. But this book was written in the first half of the 19th century. Cooper is telling a story from a time not long before he was born. That has to be remembered when reading this.
If you've seen the movie made in the 1990's, don't expect the same story from the novel. The Last of the Mohicans was reworked so the story would be more acceptable to the public culture of the late 20th century. The novel gives good descriptions of the surrounding countryside as well as the human story. This is one of those books that is often mandatory in a high school or college curriculum. Don't let that put you off. It's a good read.
I still want to know why the women were going to their father's garrison in the first place. Why would the officer allow his two daughters to come out in the middle of nowhere (it was, then) to a fort under siege by the French? OK, logic has nothing to do with this - I must accept the story and don't worry about the stupidity of people. If we didn't do stupid things, we wouldn't have many good stories, would we?
| The Series (in chronological order, not publishing order):
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
Book Rating System